Blogs; changing business communications?
In “Naked Conversations,” by Robert Schoble and Shel Israel, they advocate that blogging is changing the way business approaches communications on all levels. The title “Naked Conversations” refers to the transparency of corporate blogging with their customer rather than hiding behind politically correct corporate speak, PR lingo, or buzz words. The authors claim that honest straight forward conversations with customers and other stake holders are the trend of communications and benefit both parties.
They cite many examples of companies that have successfully used blogs and where a blog may have helped a company during a crisis communications situation. Two examples that stick in my mind are Microsoft and Kryptonite. Mainly because I use many Microsoft products and being a cyclist I used a Kryptonite lock at one time.
In the Microsoft example Schoble and Israel show how through blogging Microsoft was able to shed or seriously diminish the “evil empire” reputation Microsoft had acquired of many years. When customers, suppliers and contractors where engaged with individual bloggers within Microsoft they came to know the individual employees working on different projects with different goals, objectives and problems. Before Microsoft started blogging people just thought every employee as part of machine. Afterwards they were people.
Kryptonite on the other had a very negative experience as they got steamrolled by bloggers. Kryptonite was a leading manufacturer of bicycle locks. A customer with a serious issue called the company to tell them about a design flaw in one of their most popular locks. After not receiving a response he post directions on popular on-line bike forums about how to pick the locks with a Bic pen. The directions spread to more widely read blogs. The company, unaware of the blogosphere, worked in a traditional communications strategy.
Schoble and Israel state “By ignoring the blogosphere, Kryptonite gave millions of people the impression that the company had neither sympathy nor remedy for its customers.” Eventually a video of how the pick the lock ended up on the blogosphere. A little over a week after the first posting of the issue Kryptonite announced that it would replace all “Bic-pickable” locks at an estimated cost of $10 million. If Kryptonite had been engaged in the blogsphere and the cycling community knew they were working on the problem could the outcome have been different? We’ll never know but I suspect Kryptonite’s customers would have been less critical in this situation if they had engaged their customers through blogging. Kryptonite had huge customer loyalty that was quickly lost when customers believed the company was treating them indifferently. (I no longer use a Kryptonite lock myself.)
I believe that blogs are a powerful communications tools and that government, NGOs, and business will begin using blogs to communicate directly and more effectively with customers and stakeholders. I do feel that blogging rather than wiping out communications practices will become one more tool in the savvy communicator’s bag that he or she will use to get messages out rather than replacing what we view as traditional communications practices today.
The picture of the blogosphere is courtesy Matthew Hurst.
For an explanation of Matthew’s picture see “Map: Welcome to the Blogosphere” by Stephen Ornes.
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For the purposes of this blog I’m a graduate student at Georgetown University working on a second masters degree, this one in Public Communications. Yes, I know…over educated. Oh, my other degree is a MBA with a specialization in managing Information Technology; also a BA from the University of Maryland and a graduate of the Army’s Command and General Staff College.
Other than over achieving educationally I’m a federal government employee working for a large cabinet level agency in communications. Any views presented in this blog are my own and not affiliated with, a derivative of or those of my employer or the federal government in any way, shape or form.
The purpose of this blog is to expose me to blogging and other social media Web 2.0 platforms to better understand how Web 2.0 can be used in communications products and strategies. Perhaps I might say something of interest or funny! Only time will tell.
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